One may make the case that Denzel Washington is the best actor working today. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone on Earth who doesn’t admire at least one of his performances, and he’s an Oscar winner twice over and well-known in practically every circle.
His emotional performances in films like Fences, Training Day, Malcolm X, and Glory are impressive enough, but he’s also one of the most ferocious action performers around. Among his many pure action-driven parts, the first two The Equalizer films stand out the most. These are followed by films like Man on Fire to Unstoppable and the very unappreciated version of The Magnificent Seven.
Although it may offend some, Antoine Fuqua and Washington are a formidable creative force in the film industry. Of course, Fuqua directed the actor to his second Oscar triumph, and Washington has always brought out the best in him. Washington has, until recently, been one of the few major actors who has never returned for a follow-up film.
Then, in 2014, an action thriller titled The Equalizer emerged, based on the 1980s TV series of the same name. Although some critics were less than enthusiastic about the film, moviegoers lapped it up and made it a financial success.
The sequel to The Equalizer, released in 2018, was also a commercial success. The Equalizer 3, the third and presumably last installment in the critically acclaimed trilogy, reunites Fuqua and Washington after five years apart.
The Equalizer 3: Back for More Mayhem in Italy
A Silician mobster returns to his base of operations sometime after the events of the second film to find that nearly all of his guys have been brutally murdered. Before long, he runs across Robert McCall (Washington), a meeting that ends badly for our hero.
A local doctor named Enzo Arisio (Remo Girone) in a coastal town in Southern Italy quickly comes to McCall’s aid. McCall settles very fast in Italy, making friends with Enzo and other locals, but he soon learns that the Silician Mafia controls his new home. With few other choices, he is forced to resort to open conflict with his frightening new enemies.
If you’ve seen the other Equalizer movies, you should know what to expect from this one. It follows the same premise as the previous films in the series but relocates the action from the Boston suburbs to Europe. In most cases, this is effective.
Since moving, Washington’s character has had to adapt to a new environment in which he is neither well-known nor supported by his late friend Susan (Melissa Leo). Emma (Dakota Fanning), a young CIA analyst, is introduced as a potential catalyst for McCall’s latest outrageous path of revenge, but her subplot remains dormant for the bulk of the film.
With the exception of a major twist in the film’s last act, Fanning’s character is largely forgettable. However, that’s not why you’ve decided to watch the sequel.
Washington inflicts almost comical levels of misery on any mobster who stands in his way, and director Fuqua and screenwriter Richard Wenk are well aware of this. Every other minute of the film is well worth your time, however, there is a 15-minute section in the middle that drags on without the film’s titular vigilante at all.
Although Washington isn’t as young as other modern action actors like Chris Hemsworth or Michael B. Jordan, he is nonetheless a very convincing choice for such a physically demanding character. He’s scary, violent, and potentially harmful, but also quite charming and endearing.
Even though the movie portrays him performing seemingly incredible feats of medicine, he is still the kind of person you’d be pleased to have a cup of tea with at an Italian bakery. There are multiple sequences in the film showing Washington doing that in between all the bloodshed, and yet it never gets old.
A third Equalizer picture, or even a second one, would have been quite unlikely if the role had been played by anyone other than Denzel Washington. The success of The Equalizer 3 is owed in large part to Washington’s continued dedication to the character.
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The Equalizer 3: A Must-See for Fans of the Series
The third Equalizer picture may not quite match the quality of the first two, but it gets close. While the film’s story is almost nonexistent for the majority of its running length, it makes up for this with some of the most graphic violence in the whole trilogy. Tonally jarring transitions from Washington shopping for fish at a farmers market to dismembering bad guys won’t win over viewers who weren’t fans of the first two films in the series.
Directing the best “Dad” movies is something Fuqua has always excelled at; the first two Equalizer films have long held a place of honor in the “Dad Movie Hall of Fame.” It moves quickly but never drags, the lead actor is magnetic, and there’s all the action, mayhem, and melodrama you could want from a film like this.
Although it may not reach the heights of 2023 action movies like the latest John Wick and Mission: Impossible installments in terms of technical brilliance and innovation, The Equalizer 3 still delivers on its promise of satisfying action. Absolutely nothing else could be desired.
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